Friday, October 16, 2009

Sequelize Me

Last week, I looked at a few sequels that do the right thing and deliver some sort of quality the second (or fourth) time around. Feeling confident in the possibility of franchises, I figured I’d throw my support to a few stand-alone films that could possibly benefit from a solid followup. I had planned an extensive list rounded up to a flashy number like “13” or the ever popular “50,” but the more I thought about it, the harder it was to come up with movies I think warrant more installments. I love my random little oddities like The Stuff or Identity, but having seen one too many Hitcher retread or Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Graves, I figured I’d slow down and think not only about what to follow up, but how to bring on another round while serving it cinematic justice

1. Scarecrows

This little seen 1988 film utilizes one of rural America’s most fearsome creations, adding a touch of zombiism to very tall burlap sackheads hunting a band of plane hijacking bank robbers. It’s short, cheap, and incredibly creepy, plus worthy of plenty of bonus points for featuring the scariest cornfield since Malachi and Isaac played hide-and-seek behind the rows. Its long-awaited (by me) DVD release came just two years ago with nary a special feature, leaving the possibility of a sequel looking slimmer than the stick these monsters are mounted on. Still, scarecrows are freaky, abandoned farms look great on camera, and the world can always use more reminders of how tasty homegrown corn really is.

Title: Scariercrows
Plot Proposal:Keep it simple. What works so well in the original is the film’s isolated setting and crustily ragged villains. While I loved the fact that the titular scarecrows’ victims were a little older than your typical horror bait, a sequel could cast just about anyone as straw meat. Horny teens would be a tad too trite, so let’s keep the shifty hero angle and crash a prisoners’ transport bus en route a corrections facility. Give us a big bloody car accident to kick things off, followed by physically and morally intimidating characters trying to survive the night. We’d even get an excuse for why nobody would call the authorities, since escape would be the second goal on everybody’s mind. Toss in some internal gang friction to compete with the brain chompers and you’ve got plenty of material to stuff into 90 minutes or more.

Tagline: If they only didn't eat brains...

2. Kingdom of the Spiders

It’s unlikely that William Shatner will ever fit back into those Levi jeans, but few creature features could dare to end on such an oddly eerie note as this 1977 arachnid holocaust. From goofy CGI jumpers to Middle Earthian monsters, we’ve seen our share of spiders in cinema over the last thirty years, but none have really come close to capturing the total icky fear factor of fuzzy tarantulas bent on world domination. Until now.

Title: Kingdom of the Spiders II: The World Wide Web
Possible Plot: It’s been 30 years since the carnivorous arachnids coated the earth in their silk. Since then, mankind has been driven underground, occasionally venturing above to  scavenge for food while trying to avoid being scavenged themselves. It’s a brutal world but one plucky survivor vows to take down the the eight-legged apocalypse causing freaks by creating a juice that will melt those Kevlar strength webs and poison their spinners. The secret ingredient: Aquanet, discovered in prime condition in an abandoned Kmart (commercial sponsor alert). An all-out toxic battle ensues as Charlotte, our heroine, leads the ragtag army in pumping the remnants of the sewer system with a powerful mix of hairspray and carbonation, melting the prickly hairs right off those bulbous bodies and culminating in an explosion Michael Bay could only dream of. Naturally, there are casualties on the human side (both insect and aerosol related) to give us a rowdy last 30 minutes, but our homo sapien cousins ultimately emerge victorious...until the final shot reveals one lone egg-dragging arachnid sprouting a ninth leg and some very, very puffy hair. Could Part 3 be just around the corner?

Tagline: Along came some spiders 
To sit down beside us
And suck out our guts till the end of days

3. Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Perhaps the very definition of a cult (or more appropriately, kult) movie, this 1988 film truly is like no other. Yes, its pure uniqueness can probably never ever in a hundred strobe light years be matched but you know what? I want more. You want more. We all. Want more.

Title: Massacre In the Milky Way: Komeback of the Klowns
Possible Plot: When we last spotted the balloon-dog walking extraterrestials, things didn’t look so funny. Their circus spaceship had seemingly been blown to bits, leaving nothing behind but the crumbs of acidic cream pies...or so we thought!

We open with an overhead shot of the colorful explosion, slowly--then manically--panning out, up, down, in, swirl, and loop-di-loop as the camera travels through what’s revealed to be a bendy telescope watched by the weeping amber eye of a newly crowned war widow klowness. Primal screams and bicycle horn honks rock what we now see to be the mother ship. That’s right: that yellow-and-red striped tent was just one vessel of the nomadic tribe. There were two vehicles sent down that fateful day in California. 

One made it home.

So many directions a sequel to the greatest film of all time could go, it’s near impossible to find a starting point. Another earth invasion would be dandy, but klowns deserve more innovation than that. Remember how certain ladies were, instead of being wrapped in flesh-eating cotton candy, enclosed in giant bouncy balls and kept alive? Obviously, there was an ulterior motive but get your dirty minds out of Pennywise’s gutter. There will be no God Told Me To-like yellow auras or Cronenbergian births. Turns out, for all their pie-throwing, shadow puppeteering, car racing skills, our anitheroic race has one circus niche that remains unfilled amongst their kind: trapeze artists. Hence, light young women are being collected to complete the Klown show. What follows is an orgy of genres and film tropes never before united in such light-hearted PG-13 rated bliss: women in prison plotting + martial arts training montages x ginormous Caligulaesque scenery - phallic imagery x space travel sci-fi + Italian cannibal cinema / Space Jam - bicycles + unicycles. Oh, and that’s just before the opening credits.

By the end of the film, we’ll get a hotheaded crimson plastic haired mother seeking vengeance, acrobatic acts to rival Cirque de Soleil, a balloon dog attack, and a Romeo & Julietish love story that kicks the slimy green butt out of V’s tepid lizard-meets-dumb-teen drama. I smell an Oscar. It has the faint odor of stale popcorn and burnt corndogs.
Tagline: Fear Has a New Facepaint 
A tad too fan fictiony for your tastes? How would you follow up the Brothers Chiodo masterpiece, Shatner’s brave spider stomping, and Scarecrows’s creepy night hunts? Also, what are some of the single entry genre films you think deserve a second go ‘round? I'll give a hardy vote to The Wicker Man--a Robin Hardy vote that is, as he's currently working on a follow up to his classic pagan musical. Unbreakable is essentially a two hour prologue to a movie yet to be made, and I always wondered what happened to the newest member of Tod Browning's Freaks. Share your votes below. Bonus points for plot synopsis!


  1. I wish I could go and hang out at Rock and Shock. My friends will have a table will be selling artwork, and another will be selling the Western Mass Horror Show, which is a couple of short films that we all made back a few years ago. I would love to be able to join them at the table and talk to all the weirdos that come up! Maybe next year.

    I do expect a full report of any celebrity encounters and anything that you buy!

  2. Yes, you must report back!
    Have a great time!
    Wish I could go... so close to my home... :(

  3. I'm excited since this will be my first R&S. I'll keep an eye out for the Western Mass Horror Show in your honor. We're looking forward to crashing the OTC table for a while and just kind of bump around the rest. I haven't checked the schedule yet, so this is definitely a winged trip if there ever was one. I'd love to chat up Jack Ketchum since I missed him at Fangoria, but Sunday is usually the tail end so we'll see what happens. As always, I'll be in the market for more movies and posters but may hold back for Chiller Theater two weeks from now.

    Yup, I'll also be at Chiller for Halloween weekend. I can't stop! Are you planning on crashing Horror Hound or any of the more central conventions?

  4. Christine! I wish you could go to and get us some VIP treatment with your cred.